A/N: I know, it's been a (ridiculously) long time in coming, but I haven't forgotten this story. While I can't promise I'll be any quicker at delivering the next chapter than I was with this one, I'm certainly going to try my best to keep the momentum going, if only because I, like all of you, want to find out wtf is going on and who's sending people to kill Ziva!
McGee shifted his weight in the plastic chair outside Ziva's hospital room and rubbed his eyes. This two a.m. guard shift wasn't getting any easier, no matter how uncomfortable he tried to make himself to keep from drifting off. Opening the door a crack, he poked his head inside. "Psst. Abby."
Abby, her dark hair and clothes blending into the shadows next to Ziva's bed, raised her head and yawned. "What?" she whispered back, leaning forward.
"I can't keep my eyes open, here. Can you go get me some coffee?"
Sighing, Abby stood up and crossed to the door as quietly as she could, glancing back over her shoulder at where Ziva slept. "It's got to be three in the morning, Timmy! Do you really need coffee right now?"
He turned his hands up helplessly. "I do if you want me to be awake enough to be any use here."
"Well, why don't you go get your own coffee, then?"
McGee sighed. "Because I'm the one with the gun, Abby," he explained, not for the first time that night. "There's no point me wandering off and leaving you and Ziva alone when neither of you has a weapon."
Abby snorted. "Ziva is a weapon."
"Not right now, she's not."
"Besides, you left us alone when you had to pee. If it's really that unsafe, you shouldn't even have done -"
"Ziva was awake then, Abby. Even from the bed, she can handle a gun, but not if she's got painkillers and sleeping pills on board and it's the middle of the night. Which is why I haven't gotten out of this chair since dinnertime. Now would you please go get me something with caffeine in it?"
Still grumbling, Abby stood up and slipped through the door. "Fine, but you have to sit inside then. I don't want her to wake up and think no one's there!"
McGee obliged, although he privately though that Ziva was in no danger of waking up and panicking just because she had no one to hold her hand. "Good?" he whispered as he settled into the chair that was still warm from Abby's body heat.
Satisfied, she nodded, smiled at him, and turned to head toward the 24-hour cafe that served the hospital's most desperate visitors.
With a sigh, McGee leaned back in his new seat and looked over at Ziva's sleeping face. The room was mostly dark, but the variety of multicolored lights on the equipment that was monitoring her provided enough light for him to make out her slack features. She was really and truly down for the count, he decided, and realized with a mild start that this was perhaps the first chance he had ever had to examine her without fear for his life. She looked much younger than he was used to, lying under the white sheets with her skin almost as pale as the bedclothes and her face relaxed. There was always a thin film of tension over her features when she was awake, but that was gone now.
He was leaning over to sneak a better look at what he could see of her bald spot - another thing he'd never get to check out without being punched in the daytime - when he heard the light snick that indicated the door unlatching. "Thank god," he began, turning to pick Abby out of the darkness. "I'm about to fall - Abby?"
The figure silhouetted in the doorway was far too broad to be Abby, he realized mid-sentence, and stopped. It must be her doctor, he thought fleetingly before common sense asserted itself and informed him that doctors did not do their rounds at 3 o'clock in the morning. Tensing, he closed his mouth and reached for the gun at his belt. "Can I help you?" he asked to cover the sound of his weapon pulling free from its holster. He hoped that the shadows that concealed the visitor's face were serving him just as well.
The dark figure started slightly, and McGee wondered if he hadn't known that anyone else would be in the room with Ziva. "Terribly sorry," a male voice finally came out of the doorway, light and British-accented. "I hadn't realized Miss David had a companion. I'm just here to check that her IV line is secure - no need for the lights," he broke off as McGee reached for the switch at Ziva's bedside. "I've been doing this quite long enough to do it by touch alone. Helps to avoid disturbing the patients."
Nevertheless, McGee flipped on the lamp, narrowing his eyes as he did it to keep from being blinded by the light.
Newly-illuminated, McGee and Danny Weiss stared at each other for a second before Weiss broke the tableau and lunged for him. McGee threw his weight to the side, inadvertently toppling his chair as he tried to avoid the other man's grip. He and his gun clattered to the floor noisily. Scrambling, he got his feet back under him just as Weiss came within striking distance and, doing the only thing he could think of, McGee pistoned his legs, half-standing and driving his head into the other man's stomach.
The air whooshed out of Weiss's lungs, but he managed to get his hands over McGee's shoulders to support himself and avoided going down completely. For the moment, supporting himself was all he was doing, but McGee felt his hands begin to close as he realized that he could easily strangle McGee from this position. McGee still had hold of his gun, but couldn't bring it to bear in the close quarters they were in. Again evading in the only way he could think of, McGee ducked, pulling his support out from under Weiss, who collapsed to the floor, still trying to recover from the head-butt McGee had dealt him.
"Ma..." muttered a groggy voice from the bed. Surprised, both men paused in their combat to look at Ziva, who was struggling to pull herself up on her elbows in bed. "Ma ze?" Through the haze of painkillers, she managed to pry her eyes open and stare without understanding at the two men in front of her, who stared owlishly back at her. Before either of them could do anything, her eyes had drifted closed and, still muttering in Hebrew, she had fallen back against the pillows and lost consciousness again.
Weiss, with the quicker reaction, jumped to his feet and grabbed for McGee again. Reflexively, McGee pulled the trigger of his gun, not bothering to aim.
A shot boomed into the darkness, the muzzle flash illuminating the shock on Weiss's face as a bullet plowed into his shoulder. Not seeming to take the time to register the pain of the wound, he clapped a hand over it and darted toward the bed, his free hand out and reaching for Ziva. He was obviously panicked, though, and as he tried to rush past McGee, McGee flung his arm out and neatly clotheslined him. As if in a cartoon, Weiss's upper body stayed still while his lower half kept moving. His feet went out from under him and he did a neat pratfall onto his backside. A hollow pop-splash issued from under him, as if he'd landed on a water balloon, and he skidded to a hard stop against the wall adjacent Ziva's bed, under the room's only window.
Secure in having the upper hand now, McGee lowered his arm, pointed his gun at Weiss, and advanced. "What's the point of this, Danny? Who sent you?"
Weiss, eyes wide, looked from McGee to the window and then, in an instant, seemed to make a decision. He leapt to his feet and threw himself through the second-story hospital window before McGee could even react to the look on his face.
McGee grabbed for the other man's retreating feet as the glass shattered, but gravity was a formidable opponent and all he got was a palmful of shattered heavy-duty glass as Weiss slipped through his fingers. Automatically, he planted his hands on the windowsill, preparing to give chase, and it struck him only just before he jumped through the window that they were in a second-story room. The assassin had somehow flung himself down to the courtyard below and kept moving, for there was no sign of a shattered body beneath the window, but McGee knew that if he attempted the same thing he'd likely end up dead.
Cursing, McGee lowered his gun and turned to look at Ziva, who continued to sleep peacefully. He reached out to check her, then drew his hand back as a drop of blood spattered down onto her sheets. Dumbly, he turned him palm up to find the source and realized he'd cut his hand on the window glass.
"McGee?" a thin voice said from the doorway.
He whirled, raising his gun defensively, to find Abby staring at him in horror. "Abby -"
"What happened?" Abby demanded. One of the cups she was holding slipped unnoticed out of her hand and hit the ground, sending up a spray of what McGee hoped was Caf-Pow and not hot coffee. "What did you do?"
Sighing, he lowered his gun. "Not me. I - wait." Still trying to process the events of the last minute, he turned his back on her and went to look out the window again, sure he must simply have missed seeing Weiss's body in the courtyard. But still there was no sign of the man, only a pile of dark-tinged glass where Weiss must have landed before he fled. "He's gone, damn it!"
"The guy who - damn it!" he cursed again, holstering his gun. "Call Gibbs and Tony."
"Yes!" he snapped, whirling on her. "Danny Weiss just tried to sneak in here and get at Ziva, so yes, if you don't mind I think we need to call in some goddamn backup!"
Abby's lip trembled as she looked from him to Ziva. "I'm sorry! I just . . . I heard the gunshot and I came running and then all I saw was you, and - is she ok?" she interrupted herself sharply. "Did he hurt her?"
McGee shook his head. "No, I don't think so. He never got close to her, and she slept through the whole thing, believe it or not. Now, please." He grabbed the surviving coffee cup from her hand just as she absently started to let go of it. "Call Gibbs. I don't want to start following Weiss's trail just so some other guy can waltz in and kill Ziva and you. We need more people. Now, I'm going to go find a nurse or something who can double-check that Ziva's ok."
Abby nodded and fumbled to pull her phone out of her pocket. It took her three tries, and she realized with a grimace that her hands were shaking. She wiped her palms on her skirt, steadied the phone with one hand, and dialed tentatively with the other. Her call was answered on the first ring by a rough voice, and she sucked in a shaky breath and managed to say, "Gibbs? Gibbs, we need you here. Now."
"Coming," was all Gibbs bothered to say in reply before the connection went dead.
Swallowing convulsively, Abby pocketed her phone again and moved to stand near Ziva. She took one of the other woman's limp hands in hers, lowered her head, and tried not to picture the scene that she had only just missed.